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Char siu - not bao?

Hi, I apologize if this question has an answer somewhere buried in the boards. I've been looking for weeks and I can't find much on char siu - BBQ/roasted pork. I assume that's because it is a fairly generic request - and likely on dozens of menus.

I'm looking for nice, crispy, juicy char siu on rice. My husband grew up in Toronto, where like NYC and Vancouver, Chinese BBQ joints line the streets, all hanging their BBQ'd ducks and pigs in the window. But those are Chinatowns...and we have Chinese cities! So much ground to cover! Even as often as we get out to the SGV, we haven't really seen anything comparable. I'm sure we are just in the wrong spots. Can you point me to somewhere we can find char siu on rice with broccoli or bok choi. We've had Sam Woo's and it's alright. We are hoping to find better. Also, I did notice a strand on Unlimited BBQ...but the reviews were mixed at best. Can you steer me in the right direction?

Like this:

Thank you!

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  1. That looks good enough to eat!!!

    1. Try New Won Kok in LA Chinatown, their char sui that is on the juicy side.
      Sam Woo BBQ is kind of a loosely knit restaurant chain and the quality varies from location to location, but their BBQ is consistently pretty good.

      1. I will only vouch for the BBQ Unlimited in the Valley on Sherman Way. Great BBQ char sui. Also vouch for Joe Woo's on Sepulveda and Victory.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Hughlipton

          Count me in with the recommendation on BBQ Unlimited in the Valley. The Melrose/101 branch is not quite as good but is good enough to prevent a drive to the SGV if you want what they're good at.

          BBQ Unlimited in the Valley also has excellent jook, and serviceable (but nowhere near SGV-quality) bao. In addition, I love their asparagus beef, especially now when asparagus is high-quality. The problem is parking -- their valet is awful and there's absolutely no street parking whatsoever. Either park on Ethel St. and don't leave anything out in your car, or park in the K-Mart parking lot, do the Death Sprint across Sherman Way, and hope you don't get towed.

          1. re: Das Ubergeek

            The gai bao is better than the pork buns. Try their shrimp in lobster sauce. I have never had a problem with their parking. If no slots I just hand the keys over to the parking lot attendants and go in and eat. I have never had anything taken from my car.

            1. re: Hughlipton

              There's no problem with the honesty of their valets -- the "don't leave anything out in your car" was for the street parking in the neighbourhood south of Sherman Way, where I used to live. The problem with their valet parking is that it gets so jammed that it can take 30 minutes for them to shuffle all the cars if you're unlucky and your car is blocked in by two rows of cars -- not to mention that it's often full to capacity anyway.

              I agree that the gai bao are better than the cha siu bao, but my favourite bao at BBQ Unlimited is the lai wong bao -- the yellow cream ones.

              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                Thank you for your response. I do agree tht sometimes the shuffling of cars can be a wait but the food and the prices almost justify it.

        2. I would suggest U2 BBQ in Alhambra, on Valley just west of New Ave. They have the ducks and pigs, etc. hanging in a case as you walk in, and they have very good char siu (which I have always spelled "chashu"). They also have a plate of char siu on rice that goes for a very reasonable $4.95 or so, with a generous portion of both. U2 has a cafe on one side and a conventional Chinese restaurant on the other, so make sure you go to the restaurant side.

          2 Replies
          1. re: monkuboy

            wow this is great! keep the replies coming. my husband and i are going to make a list and try them all!

            and monkuboy, you may be right about the spelling...it seems that lots of Chinese words have multiple spellings. i think i've seen "shumai" 4 different ways!


            1. re: jjsawrey

              Speaking of BBQ Unlimited, there Bok Jum Guy (Steamed White Chicken) blows Sam Woo 9on Sepulveda) away. I tried it last week and it was real juicy and super plump and meaty. Probably a steroid chicken! Incredible.

          2. Since you're on a mission how about Yum Cha Cafe, the inexpensive dim sum place.
            They have just a few rice dishes and char siu and rice is one of them- maybe $3.95?

            In the San Gabriel Superstore in San Gabriel (on Valley Blvd./San Gabriel Blvd), in Monterey Park next to Shun Fat market on Atlantic and in LA Chinatown on Broadway (near the dragon sculpture over Broadway).

            1. Lots of good suggestions already, but you should also consider any old Sam Woo in SGV.

              1. The deli inside Ranch 99 markets? They certainly have char siu (and ducks and chickens, oh my) hanging. Wait till they bring out the fresh char siu, rather than something that's been hanging there for awhile.

                1. I'm not sure if you're willing to drive, but my Mom gets some of the best Char Siu from a dive called Kim Tar in Artesia. Seriously, it's a dive...just a warning in case you do go. But they've got the meats hanging in their cases, and if you ask, your Char Siu could come with a cup of some of the Char Siu liquid...but you should bring your own cup.
                  Kim Tar
                  18309 Pioneer Boulevard
                  Artesia, CA 90701
                  (562) 402-0969
                  If you're headed down to the OC, there used to be a Chinese BBQ joint right below the Dragon Phoenix Palace in Westminster. I honestly cannot remember it's name, but it's located right below the restaurant next to the elevator. Another dive-like place...but apparently, that's where really good Chinese BBQ comes from.
                  Dragon Phoenix Palace
                  9211 Bolsa Ave.
                  Westminster, CA 92683

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: attran99

                    oh my word! we are there! my husband and i drive anywhere for food. he'll be thrilled. he's back in town this weekend and we hope to put a dent in our new list!


                  2. Which Sam Woo did you try? They are not all related.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: raytamsgv

                      We went to the Sam Woo in Alhambra on Valley. It was pretty good, but nothing that would make that our go-to (unless we try all of these reqs and nothing sticks).

                      We're headed to the SGV for some dumplings (mmm...dumplings) today and are going to make a stop at U2 BBQ. Very excited to start trying out everyone's reqs. Thank you so much!

                      1. re: raytamsgv

                        Same with Kim Tar restaurants. Char siu is usually on the menu at most Chinese restaurants as well as all Chinese BBQ places in LA. It's usually served as appetizers and/or with rice as an entree.

                        1. re: Clinton

                          there was a rec for kim tar earlier. and it is on our list. the rec was for one in orange county, though when we got dumplings yesterday in monterey park, there was one right next door. would you guys say the quality is fairly uniform across locations?

                          u2 bbq was pretty good! we're going to try them all (or try to try them all) before me make the final verdict.

                          thanks again!